Condolences Sent for Ukraine Mine Victims

VATICAN CITY, JULY 21, 2004 ( John Paul II sent a message of condolence on hearing of the Ukraine coal mine explosion that killed at least 31.

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Five others were still reported missing in the wake of the blast Tuesday in eastern Ukraine.

In a telegram sent on behalf of the Pope by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to Bishop Stepan Meniok, archdiocesan exarch of Donetsk-Kharkiv, the Holy Father requested that his sympathy be expressed to the relatives and friends of the victims, as well as to the authorities.

«While [the Pope] assures you of his fervent prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for consolation for the wounded and all those who are suffering as a result of this serious accident, he sends you a special apostolic blessing as a sign of his spiritual closeness,» reads the telegram published today by the Vatican press office.

Ukrainian authorities are investigating the explosion, which occurred in a 1,000-meter-deep mine in Krasnolimansk.

Ukraine’s mines are considered among the most dangerous in the world, due to the high concentration of methane gas, lax safety norms and outdated equipment.

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